Inventory Site Record

West Wickham Common

West Wickham Common (Bromley)

Brief Description

West Wickham Common was wasteland of the Old Manor of West Wickham. What remains of the common is closely connected with Hayes Common, formerly wasteland of the Manor of Baston. In the 1860s the Lord of both manors, Sir John Lennard, began to sell off plots of West Wickham Common for villas. It was feared that Hayes Common would go the same way, but following opposition it gained legal protection against enclosure in 1869. After a major public campaign the final 26 acres of West Wickham Common were purchased in 1892 by the Corporation of London for public open space. The land forms a steep scarp face and a flat area on its crest, mainly formed in gravels of the Harwich Formation. There are conspicuous earthworks of various dates from Neolithic to 1580, and oak pollards that are at least 600 years old.

Practical Information
Site location:
Croydon Road/Commonside, Hayes
Postcode:
BR4
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Borough:
Bromley
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities:
car park, wheelchair trail
Events:
Public transport:
Rail: Hayes. Bus: 246, 138 then walk

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

Full Site Description

West Wickham Common is within the West Wickham and Coulsdon Commons group of 6 areas that are managed by the City of London Corporation. The name Hayes dates from 1177, from Anglo Saxon 'hoese' meaning 'a settlement in open land overgrown with shrubs and rough bushes'. Hayes Common (q.v.) and what remains of West Wickham Common are closely connected. West Wickham Common was wasteland of the Old Manor of West Wickham and Hayes Common that of the Manor of Baston. In the 1860s the Lord of both manors, Sir John Lennard, began to sell off plots of West Wickham Common for villas and it was feared that Hayes Common would go the same way. In c.1868 a large body of commoners organised opposition, which led in 1869 to Hayes Common becoming the first common in England and Wales to be given legal protection against enclosure under the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1866. After a major public campaign the final 26 acres of West Wickham Common were purchased in 1892 by the Corporation of London for public open space. There are some remnants of the 'tall iron railing spiked and close set' erected in the late 1800s that ultimately led to the Corporation acquiring the site.

The land forms a steep scarp face and a flat area on its crest, mainly formed in gravels of the Harwich Formation. There are conspicuous historic earthworks of various dates from Neolithic to 1580 on the common, and there are around 30 veteran oak pollards, some at least 600 years old. One of these was painted by Sir John Everett Millais in 1853 for his painting 'The Proscribed Royalist, 1651'. On 10 November 1992 3 beech trees were planted to commemorate the centenary of the purchase of the common by the City of London: one was planted by the Rt Hon Sir Brian Jenkins, Lord Mayor, another by H Derek Balls Esq, Deputy Chairman of Epping Forest and Open Spaces Committee, and the third by Cllr Mrs Dorothy Laird, Mayor of Bromley. The common is mainly oak woodland but attempts are being made to regenerate heather.

Sources consulted:

Andrew Crowe, 'The Parks and Woodlands of London' (Fourth Estate, 1987); 'Spring Park and West Wickham Common' Corporation of London leaflet (n.d.). Beckenham Journal, 1890 and 1892; W Camden, 'Britain, A Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing kingdoms, England, Scotland and Ireland' (1610 see www.visionofbritain); B Cherry & N Pevsner, 'Buildings of England, London2: South' (Penguin, 1983); G S Eversley, 'English Commons and Forests; the story of the battle during the last thirty years for public rights over the commons and forests of England and Wales' (London: Cassell, 1892); Hayes Commons Conservators Minutes 1869-1954; A H A Hogg, B H St J O'Neil and C E Stevens 'Earthworks on Hayes and West Wickham Commons' in Archaeologia Cantiana LIV 1941 pp28-34; A H A Hogg, 'The earthworks on West Wickham Common' in Archaeologia Cantiana, 97, 1981; H F Parsons 'On the flora of Hayes Common' Proceedings, Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society, 1903; B Philp 'Enclosures, Hayes Common', in Archaeologia Cantiana 71, 1957, pp233-6; B Philp, 'The Discovery of Archaeological sites at Hayes, Kent 1960-1997', Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit, 2000; The Times 1890, 1891, 1892 and letter 1924; J Walker, 'Vanished West Wickham' (Hollies Publications, 1994). Also: Corporation of London 'West Wickham Common Outline Management Plan 1995-2000 draft for discussion, 'West Wickham and Coulsdon Common Summary Management Plans 2002-5 and 2005-2010; West Wickham and Coulsdon Commons newsletters 1998, 2003, 2005, 2007.

LPGT Volunteer Research by Paul Rainey, 2009

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ398652 (539862,165221)
Size in hectares:
9
Site ownership:
Corporation of City of London
Site management:
C of L West Wickham & Coulsdon Commons Volunteers
Date(s):
1892 (date purchased by Corporation of London)
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
Historic earthworks
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Common exempted under 1965 Act
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Chislehurst
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance
Green Belt:
Yes
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Archaeological significance; SSSI to south-east
Other LA designation:
Urban Open Space

Page Top